Saturday, March 10, 2012

ERNIE BEAL: Recovering our past

Between 1980 and 1992 my professional focus involved representing people who claimed their civil and human rights had been violated in some particular.  Within this period I handled several hundred lawsuits filed in federal courts and many more administrative claims.  My practice ranged broadly, in both geography and scope of claim.  Though most cases concluded via settlement several went to trial with verdicts favorable to the folks I served.   Among the most notable were:
Reflecting on this period of my life I am reminded strongly that every life story contains many events, successes, and mistakes no individual one of which tells the whole story.  My legal career reflects my desire to work with folks who have been abused, to apply my skills to great achievement, and to work successfully in contexts not ordinarily receptive to the cause I pursued.  Those qualities continued to be evident in later professional work, even when making mistakes or falling short of a desired goal.   
I recently had an opportunity to talk with an agency providing housing supports to individuals who had experienced multiple life challenges and for whom the present "story" of their lives had very little positive detail.   Thinking about my past, present, and future compelled to realize the importance of working with those folks to uncover, recover, and retell the full story of their life.   I suspect we can all benefit by remembering the great moments, the good work, and the pleasant memories associated with every person we know.   Such action on our part makes a great antidote to the modern tendency to reduce people to "sound bites" and one-dimensional characterization.
~ Ernie Beal